Mike had never thought of art galleries as a place to meet women. Hell, Mike thought about art galleries as little as possible.
The Vallejo/Frazetta exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Fine Arts was a rare exception to the rule.
Mike enjoyed fantasy-oriented art, and Vallejo was his favorite artist. There would be paintings by other, lesser-known artists as well. Mike made plans to check out the exhibit.
Mike wasn't really comfortable in the three-piece suit that he had dug out for the occasion, but he doubted the snobs at the door would let him in if he wore his usual black jeans and black shirt. He needn't have worried. Most of the people wandering the museum were denim and t-shirt clad anyway. Mike took the opportunity to leave the suit coat and the vest and tie in the car.
He went inside and started looking around. He noted the sign directing him to the Vallejo paintings and wandered off in that direction. He noticed a nice looking girl studying one of his favorite Vallejo paintings.
Mike sidled over. "Looking at the expression on his face, I wonder how many bottles of wine he's already had."
The girl looked up irritably. "I don't have any idea, I don't hang out with drunken barbarians." she snapped.
Mike just grinned at her. "You don't know what you're missing." he quipped. "Why just look over here..." and he pointed to the painting next to the one they had been discussing, "after meeting a monster like that, wouldn't you need a bottle or two just to unwind?"
The girl looked up at the indicated painting, then back at the drunken Conan picture, and began to laugh. "You might be right at that." She closed her notebook with a snap and tucked her pen away in her breast pocket. "Any more insights?" She looked at Mike with a definite challenge in her eyes.
Mike bowed low, "I shall do my best for you milady. My name is Michael Rivers."
The girl's eyes danced with laughter. She curtsied to Mike. "My name is Vanessa Mann."
Mike laughed, "We almost have to marry just for the joke." "What joke?" Vanessa wanted to know.
"Why, if we married, you would hyphenate out last names." She nodded.
Mike gave her a wicked grin," Then, when we retired, you would be a song."
Vanessa looked puzzled for a moment, then a look of horror crept over her face as the realization set in. Mike dropped to one knee and started singing in a nice baritone voice, "Old Mann-River..."
Vanessa couldn't help but laugh. "You idiot." she said when she got her giggles under control.
Mike rose to his feet and offered her his elbow. Vanessa shrugged and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm.
Mike thoroughly enjoyed himself, wandering among the paintings and offering outrageous and insightful comments on each picture, keeping Vanessa giggling and chatting for most of the evening.
At the door of the museum, Mike wrote his home number down on a business card. "Call me if you'd like to get together for dinner sometime." He dropped to his knee again and kissed Vanessa's hand. "Thank you for a fun and educational evening milady fair." he declaimed.
Vanessa just shook her head and laughed again. "Stand up you nut." She stood on tiptoe and kissed Mike on the cheek. "I haven't had so much fun in a long time. Thank you." She said.
Mike winked at her. "Call me," he said. Then he turned and headed for his car. Vanessa stood there and watched him walk away. She glanced at the card she had in her hand and started to toss it in the trash, then reconsidered and tacked it into her fanny pack.
A few days later, Mike was sitting in his hot tub when the phone rang. Mike reached over to the table where the cordless phone sat next to the Jacuzzi. "Mike here." he said. "Hi there. This is Vanessa Mann, remember me?"
Mike sat up straighter. "OF course I remember you. The loveliest piece of art at the museum." "Well thank you."
"Are you ready to take me up on my offer of a dinner?" Mike asked.
"Well, that was why I called. I want to pick the place and time."
"Sure, why not." Mike shrugged. "Anyplace you feel safe. Bring a friend if you want to."
Vanessa smiled silently. She had planned to have a friend with her but sitting at a nearby table, just in case. "Um, that'll be fine."
"Good." Mike said. "When and where? By the way, I am allergic to shellfish."
I was thinking about Carlos Murphy's. The one downtown. About 7 tonight be OK?"
"I'll be there." Mike promised. He hung up and leaned back in the Jacuzzi. Time enough to get ready after a good soak.
Mike pulled up to Carlos Murphy's on his Harley. Since Vanessa had her own transportation, Mike figured that he might as well enjoy the warm summer evening.
Inside, Vanessa was waiting nervously for Mike to arrive. She had her friend Consuela with her for moral support. Consuela was highly amused. "Come on mija, the one man who makes you laugh and then asks you out, and you get all paranoid." Consuela shook her head at her friends agitation, "come one, relax will ya? You called him, remember?"
Vanessa took a nervous gulp of her beer. "I haven't been on a date since high school," she told Consuela. "And you remember how that turned out."
Consuela leaned back in her chair. "Take it easy on the cervesa mija, or you'll be drunk before he even gets here."
Mike stood in the doorway looking around. Vanessa's blonde hair was easy to spot, but he wanted to scope out the situation before he made his presence known. Vanessa was sitting with a slender but busty Mexican girl who looked like she was a party girl. Vanessa was wearing a sheath dress that flattered her curves. While not as big breasted as the Mexican girl, Vanessa still showed a nice bit of cleavage through the scoop neckline of the dress.
Mike tugged on his shirt to straighten out any major wrinkles, and then walked over toward the girl's table.
"Greetings ladies." Mike said as he stopped next to Vanessa. He reached into his shirt pocket and handed each girl a small picture of a rose. "What the Hell is this?" Consuela asked.
"It's a picture of a flower. No worries about putting it in water, and no awkward figuring out where to put them while we eat."
Vanessa stared up at mike in disbelief. Surely he wasn't so insane...
Mike grinned suddenly, "Of course if you prefer the real thing..." And he raised his hand. A man from a nearby table stood and brought Mike a pair of long slender boxes. Handing one to each girl, Mike bowed slightly and sat down.
Vanessa just stared at her box as if afraid to open it. Consuela was not as reticent; she tore the ribbon off her box and lifted the lid. "Oh my god, it's beautiful!"
She leaned over and kissed Mike on the cheek. "Thank you," she said.
Her curiosity piqued, Vanessa slid the ribbon from her own box and lifted the lid for a peek. Inside were a single rose, and a small gold necklace with an enameled fairy. Consuela was already putting on her necklace, the little crystal dolphins glittering in her dusky cleavage. Vanessa lifted her necklace out with trembling hands. Mike stood again and took it from her. He fastened it around her neck, and then sat down. "Have you two ordered yet?" Mike asked.
Vanessa shook her head no. Mike raised a hand to signal for the waiter. Consuela ordered for herself and for Vanessa, Mike ordered pretty much what Consuela ordered.
As they waited for the food, Consuela started the conversation. It took a while, but Vanessa finally pulled herself out of her reverie and joined in. All, with Mike keeping the girls laughing and listening when talked about themselves, had a good time.
Vanessa and Consuela were students at the University of Arizona. They were both studying pre-med.
"So I have a couple of potential doctors here." Mike said. "Good. If more doctors looked like you two, I'd be a lot more cheerful about those physicals."
Consuela looked at him through her lashes "And if we become gynecologists?"
Mike gave her a broad smile. "Good for you." he said. "I here there's lots of openings in that field."
Vanessa cracked up, and Consuela blushed from her tits to her forehead. "Smartass." But she was grinning.
Mike excused himself to go to the restroom. While he was gone, Consuela shifted to another chair and leaned over to whisper to Vanessa. "If you don't latch onto this one chica, I'm going to grab him."
"Don't you dare!" said Vanessa, surprising herself.
Consuela went back to her own seat. "Remember-mija, you screw this one up, and I'm taking over."
Vanessa poked her tongue out at her friend.
Mike came back to the table and sat down. "Any plans for the rest of the evening ladies?"
"Not really." Said Consuela. Vanessa gave her a sharp look. Consuela tried to look innocent. She didn't succeed very well.
"When was the last time you two lovely lasses went to a carnival?"
"Not since I was a kid," said Vanessa wistfully. "A few years ago." said Consuela.
"Good," Mike said with satisfaction. "Would you two do me the honor of accompanying me to the carnival over at South 6th and 1-10?"
The ladies consulted each other by eye. "We'd love to," they said in unison.
Mike paid the bill and met the ladies out in the parking lot.
"I'll follow you two down there," said Mike.
"Why don't we ride with you?" Consuela wanted to know.
"#1, because you might want your own transportation in case the evening goes sour, and #2, I rode here on my Harley, and neither of you are dressed for a motorcycle ride." Mike said.
Vanessa perked up. "A Harley?"
Mike pointed over to where his pride and joy sat.
.... There is more of this story ...